Hokies signing day: Va. Tech focuses on linemen
With 20 recruits joining Virginia Tech on Wednesday’s national signing day, the biggest theme that emerged was the Hokies' continued emphasis on winning in the trenches.
Virginia Tech signed four offensive linemen, re-upping its commitment to bolstering an area coaches considered a weakness and continuing a trend in recent recruiting classes. The Hokies also added five athletes projected to play on the defensive line, which was depleted after losing three starters following the 2009 season.
“I think we’ve got another very successful recruiting year,” Coach Frank Beamer said Wednesday in a teleconference. “I like the talent level, the athletic ability of this class. I think we’ve got some guys that are versatile in the positions they can play.”
In the recent past, Beamer has been forced to move players around – such as switching Ed Wang to offensive tackle from tight end – because Virginia Tech fell behind in recruiting linemen. With the addition of Curt Newsome as offensive line coach in 2006, the Hokies have put an emphasis on leaner, more athletic prospects on the line, rather than just stockpiling big bodies.
“We missed on some guys that didn’t work out,” Beamer said. “But I really feel like we’re getting closer to where we want to be. The guys we have in this class helps us get closer to where we want to be.”
Mark Shuman, a 6-foot-7, 285-product of Fork Union Military Academy, is considered one of the top newcomers on the offensive line; his brother, Ryan, was a center for the Hokies from 2006 to 2008. Another top lineman, Laurence Gibson from Hargrave Military Academy, has already enrolled at Virginia Tech for the start of 2010 spring classes.
“Rather than size being the critical thing, I think being able to redirect” is important, Beamer said. “You’ve got a guy that’s an offensive tackle and he’s got to block a defensive end, that tackle better be able to work his feet. That’s been our priority the past two, three years.”
Virginia Tech also continued its theme of going hard after in-state recruits; 13 players to sign on Wednesday went to school in the commonwealth.
But a troubling trend continued in the Tidewater region, a talent-rich area that produced athletes who have been leaving the state to play in college. Phillip Sims, a top-rated quarterback from Chesapeake, Va., has already enrolled at Alabama. Evan Hailes, a defensive end from the same town, has already enrolled at Penn State. Virginia Tech offered scholarships to both players.
Beamer said there were some players that might grayshirt from this recruiting class, although he declined to identify who those players might be. Players who are grayshirted enroll in January of the following year, instead of enrolling in the summer or spring.
The Hokies hauled a predictably solid class, although they did not attract any blue-chip prospects in this class. Beamer said he was unaware where Virginia Tech might be ranked, but he liked the group coming to Blacksburg, one which will focus on rebuilding the Hokies’ in the trenches.
“I feel good about this group,” Beamer said. “I just think they’re the guys that Virginia Tech liked, and we feel good they’re going to be at Virginia Tech.”
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